Ed Braddy is now 3-0 lifetime as a candidate. And that’s not all: he’s a Republican who has never lost a Gainesville City race. How has this happened? Part of it is that Ed is a gifted and articulate candidate, but the bigger part is that a diverse group of citizens came to realize that they are all neighbors, and that they need to look out for one another.
It gave me a very warm, “It’s a Wonderful Life” kind of feeling to look around the room and see people on the same side that I would not have predicted 11 years ago, when I worked on Ed’s first campaign. The kind of “diversity” that bossy bureaucrats are always trying to enforce with raw power had bubbled up organically around common causes…and a common enemy. The celebrants were black and white, left and right, rich and poor, green and…what? Asphalt? You get the idea. The lamb and the lion had gotten together to stick it to the hyenas.
Perhaps I am being uncharitable, but the common complaint that binds these people together is the arrogance of The Machine and its particular parts. There was a real sense of payback in the crowd, and online, where one Facebook wag announced, “Mr. Lowe, your 3 minutes are up!” That referred to the infamous strict time limits placed on citizen comments at city commission meetings, and the fact that they were all disregarded anyway.
The neighbors have had much to complain about: the snail’s pace and questionable effectiveness of the Koppers cleanup; the new tree-burning power plant; an ignored east side that gets a steady diet of “plans” with no results; a love affair with high-priced Bus Rapid Transit that few people want to ride; politically motivated hiring practices. Add to this the know-it-all attitude of commissioners that disregards the tax payers who foot the bills, and it’s no wonder the Machine took one in the tail pipe last night.
This victory is already being disregarded by at least one cog in The Machine. City Commissioner Tom Hawkins was quoted in The Gainesville Sun saying that this is not a mandate, and that the city commission still has a lot of important work to do. (Translation: “You little nebishes in Munchkin-land can go back to your unimportant commenting and complaining.”)
Hawkins, who will be term limited out after next year, will certainly have a Machine tool to replace him on the ballot next year, and Machine-commissioner Susan Botcher will be facing an opponent from the new coalition of neighbors. Todd Chase, the lone outsider on the commission, was cheered by the crowd when he announced that he would be running for re-election next year. Maybe a couple more replacements will enlighten the rest of the Lean, Mean, Pegeen Machine. The neighbors are getting restless. And talking down to them is not an effective campaign strategy.
Go to the Supervisor of Elections website for all the details on Ed’s 7,258-6,007 whupping of Craig Lowe.